Forging the “Casualty” fund

In the Caribbean, where my boots are deeply grounded, the shadow of climate change looms not as a distant threat, but as an immediate and escalating crisis.

In the Caribbean, where my boots are deeply grounded, the shadow of climate change looms not as a distant threat, but as an immediate and escalating crisis. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued a chilling warning: our beloved small islands might be uninhabitable within mere decades, owing to the relentless rise in sea levels and the growing ferocity of hurricanes. The thought of our islands succumbing to the encroaching seas is not just a theoretical concern but a threatening reality. Research published in Nature Climate Change lays bare a stark future, where a potential rise in sea levels of up to 1.2 meters by 2300 could see vast swathes of these islands submerged, displacing millions.

I also have a rooted connection to Southeast Asia, a region characterized by its rich cultural mosaic and biodiverse ecosystems. Sadly, this region stands among those most vulnerable to the ravages of climate change, with a significant portion of the population facing the risk of annual flooding by 2050. This is not an abstract statistic but an ominous humanitarian crisis, with over 48 million people in the Philippines alone potentially displaced, and similar numbers at risk throughout other ASEAN countries.

This is why the leadership and commitment of the UAE Presidency and COP President Dr. Sultan Al Jaber at COP28, takes on an empirical significance. And why is it so timely for Dr. Sultan Al Jaber to emerge as a key architect in the breakthrough agreement on the “Loss and Damage Fund“.

During the critical Fifth Meeting of the Transitional Committee on Loss and Damage, held in Abu Dhabi this November, Dr. Al Jaber’s leadership was instrumental. In a process that involved intense negotiations and complex diplomacy, he played a pivotal role in steering discussions towards an unexpectedly productive conclusion. It would be no understatement to say the outcome of these meetings, which included the long-awaited operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund that so much of the Global South desperately depends upon, marks a turning point in international climate policy. It represents a long-standing gap in climate finance.

The decision to have the World Bank initially host the fund signals a significant shift towards practical solutions, after years of discussions often mired in theoretical debate. It’s a testament to the power of multilateralism and the potential for global governance to bring about concrete change, even in areas where progress has historically been slow.

As the world gears up for COP28, the significance of this agreement cannot be overstated. It sets a new precedent for international cooperation on climate finance and paves the way for more ambitious and effective climate action in the years to come. The fulfillment of the Loss and Damage Fund emerges as a critical element in the broader narrative of our collective fight against climate change – a narrative that is increasingly defined by its emphasis on equity, solidarity, and tangible action.

Indeed, the leadership exemplified by Dr. Al Jaber and the UAE, in advocating for the factual execution of the loss and damage fund, must be seen as part of a larger, more pressing call to action for the global community. It is a call that demands a response characterized by urgency, solidarity, and an unwavering commitment to the future of our planet and its inhabitants. As we look towards COP28 and beyond, the narrative is clear: our collective response to the climate crisis will define our era and shape the lives of generations to come.

There, is of course, much more work to be done.

While the UAE Presidency’s support for initiatives like the $100 billion funding commitment and the Green Climate Fund is commendable, it’s a reminder of the wider responsibility that lies with the global community. These steps, though crucial, are parts of a larger mix of international efforts required to address the climate crisis effectively.

Dr. Al Jaber’s call for greater ambition in climate finance at a meeting with multilateral development banks underlines the scale of action required. The call for trillions, not billions, in climate finance is not just a statement of need; it’s a reflection of the enormity of the challenge we face as a global community. For regions like ours, substantial financial mobilization is essential for adaptation and resilience, yet it’s a goal that can only be achieved through a concerted global effort.

The climate crisis we face today is a global challenge that calls for an equally global response. In this daunting landscape, the efforts of leaders like Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, President of COP28, gain significance, not in isolation, but as crucial contributions to a collective struggle. As a representative of regions like the Caribbean and Southeast Asia, where the consequences of climate change are alarmingly concrete, I recognize the importance of such leadership. But it’s imperative to contextualize these efforts within the broader narrative of our shared battle against climate change.

The strategic shift towards country platforms for financing, as emphasized by Dr. Al Jaber, is a step towards more effective resource allocation. This strategy, promising as it may be, underscores the necessity for international cooperation and support. The journey towards sustainable and accessible climate finance is a collective one, requiring the involvement of nations across the globe.

Dr Matthew Pajares-Yngson
Dr Matthew Pajares-Yngson
Datu Matthew Pajares Yngson is the Representative Councillor of the Caribbean ASEAN Council, and Diplomatic Affairs Envoy of the Eastern Caribbean-Southeast Asia Chamber, an organization recognized by the United Nations through the UN-OHRLLS. Datu Yngson holds a Doctorate in Professional Studies in International Relations and Diplomacy, and a Master of Arts in International Relations and Cultural Diplomacy. He is the only Filipino-Dominican alumnus of H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Commonwealth Study Conferences since its establishment in 1956. Datu Yngson is also the Royal Ambassador of The 35th Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo and was bestowed the princely title of "Rajah of Tambulian Island" for his humanitarian work in supporting the Tausug people of the Sulu Archipelago.